It’s been awhile, but Colquitt County fans with long memories might recall that Colquitt County and Carver of Columbus were once in the same region.
And although they did not meet in 1988 and 1989 when both were in the sub-divided Region 1-AAAA, they did play each other the two previous years, with the Packers winning 22-12 and 21-7.
Joining Carver the next year in playing in Region 1-AAAA were the other seven Columbus schools, including Kendrick High.
Playing for Kendrick those two seasons was current Carver coach Dell McGee.
And while the Packers had plenty of success against Carver, they had a little tougher time handling McGee and Kendrick.
McGee will bring his Tigers to Tom White Field at Mack Tharpe Stadium for an 8 p.m. non-region game on Friday.
For the fourth week in a row, the Packers will face a ranked team, with the Tigers sitting at No. 4 in Class AAA.
McGee turned the Carver program around after leading the Tigers to a 3-7 record in his first season as head coach in 2005.
Carver was 12-2 the next year and went 15-0 and won a state championship in 2007.
McGee’s record at Carver is 79-17 and 76-10 after his first season. He has not won fewer than 11 games the last six seasons.
Carver has had some outstanding players during McGee’s tenure, including running back Isaiah Crowell, who played a season at Georgia before running afoul of the law and leaving for Alabama State.
But McGee obviously knows how to get a team ready to compete, perhaps something he learned during his career at Auburn.
McGee, who turned 39 last Friday, started at cornerback for the Tigers in 1993 and 1994.
In his junior year, his first career interception came against Alabama, setting up James Bostic’s 70-yard game-clinching touchdown. As a senior, he started all 11 games and led the Tigers with eight pass breakups.
He was in the National Football League for three seasons with Arizona and Detroit and also played in NFL Europe and in the Arena Football League.
But before he was an Tiger, Cardinal, Lion or (Carver) Tiger, McGee was a Cherokee.
And quite a running Cherokee.
While playing for Buzz Busby’s Kendrick High teams, McGee rushed for 3,754 yards and scored 46 touchdowns.
And that is how many Packers remember him.
In 1988, Region 1-AAAA added the eight Columbus schools and was sub-divided for the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
Colquitt County, Valdosta, Tift County, Coffee, Bainbridge and Lowndes played in South sub-region.
Kendrick, Carver-Columbus, Baker, Spencer, Hardaway, Columbus, Jordan and Shaw played in the North.
Following the regular season, the No. 1 team from the North played the No. 2 team from the South and the No. 1 team from the South played the No. 2 team from the North.
During the regular season in 1988 and 1989, the Packers played Kendrick.
They also met each year in the region playoff game. The two teams split the four games, with each winning a regular-season and a playoff game.
In 1988, Spindola Merritt scored the only touchdown of the game with 1:01 left third quarter to give the Packers a 7-0 victory over Kendrick.
The Cherokees finished first in the North with a 7-0 sub-region record. The Packers finished second in the South and traveled to Columbus to meet the Cherokees for a berth in the region championship game.
McGee, then just a sophomore, broke the Packers hearts that night, racing 56 yards, much of it in front of the Colquitt County bench, to score a touchdown with 1:44 left and give the Cherokees a 24-21 victory.
Kendrick made it two in a row over the Packers the next year winning 14-13 via the overtime penetration rule during the regular season in Columbus.
The Packers ran only one play in the two overtime periods after electing to kick off when given the choice before the first overtime period. Kendrick received the second period kickoff and controlled the ball, never allowing the Packers a possession.
But when the region championship game berth was on the line, the Packers rose up, defeating the Cherokees 25-6 at Mack Tharpe Stadium.
McGee ended the Colquitt County defense’s string of 19 scorless quarters by a scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter, but it was far too late.
So McGee will return to Moultrie for competition for the first time in 23 years on Friday when he brings his 2-0 Tigers to the stadium.
Carver was 12-2 last year, losing in the semifinals to Buford 27-13. Both of the Tigers losses last season were to Buford.
The Tigers opened this season with a 47-6 win over Spencer. Last Thursday, Carver struggled to put away Spencer, winning 18-13. Quarterback Torrance McGee’s third-quarter touchdown put Carver ahead to stay.